‘Everyone is shocked … it was such a waste’

‘Everyone is shocked … it was such a waste’ Written by TONY ADAMS, March 5, 2016

THE tragic death of a popular Albury footballer last month has only stiffened the NRL’s resolve to educate players about the dangers of depression, and mental health issues.

Tom Wishart, a talented player with the Albury Thunder club in Group 9, set his house on fire before driving his ute into a tree a month ago.

Wishart (pictured above) was only 24 and left behind wife Emma and two children, Layla (3) and Ariana (2).

Wishart’s own parents died in tragic circumstances when he was only a teenager and those close to him believe he never recovered from that.

“He was a happy-go-lucky type who loved a beer and a laugh and everyone down here is shocked,” says Albury official and 1983 Rothmans Medallist Mike Eden.

“It was a real shock and the club and the players are struggling to come to terms with it, as you would expect.”

Eden says Wishart was a beloved character throughout the Thunder.

“He was just one of those guys with an infectious personality,” Eden says.

“He had some real tough things to overcome with the death of his parents early in life but he seemed to be doing well. He had a wife and kids and lots of mates.

“I got a trampoline for my kids a while back and had trouble putting the thing together.

“I put something up on social media about it and before I knew it, he turned up with a mate and they assembled it for me.

“That was the kind of bloke he was — it’s such a waste.”

This year the NRL has introduced a new campaign, The Resilience Project, to prevent players from self-harm.

“The aim is to focus on positive psychological activities to prevent players from sliding down the mental health scale,” says the NRL’s senior welfare and education manager Paul Heptonstall.

“There are three main aspects to it, starting with gratefulness for what you have — sometimes players lose track of the fact that they’re young, fit and play a great game.

“Stage two is empathy — that’s performing random acts of kindness.

“There’s a boomerang effect to that . . . do something nice for someone and it inevitably will make you feel better.

“And stage three is mindfulness — living in the present, appreciating the here and now, not worrying too much about the future or dwelling on the past.

“We’ve worked with mental health professionals and believe if players can work with this approach, it will keep them in the positive scale as far as their state of mind is concerned.”

The NRL’s education program isn’t just restricted to the 400-odd first-graders in the NRL.

“We’ve held sessions with every player in the NRL, National Youth Cup and NSW Cup, as well as their partners,” Heptonstall explains. “We’re talking about around 5000 people.”

The NRL — through Heptonstall and his unit — have also arranged grief counselling for Wishart’s family, friends and team-mates.

If you’re struggling with mental illness, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au

Read More

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply